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The Sformato

Versatile, Tasty... Who Could Ask For More

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Making A Spinach Sformato: Enjoy!

Making A Spinach Sformato: Enjoy!

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Bill writes:
Please help us decipher this term, sformato. We've searched your site, and the web at large, for a definition, and come to you in email only as a last resort. The search results are bewildering, as it seems the term is applied, or misapplied?, to all sorts of dishes. A friend of - a food lover fanatic in Korea - has a recipe entitled simply "sformato" for a flourless cake from eggs, almonds, and oranges. Sicilian? More to the point, what's that got to do with the various timbales going by the same name? What does sformato mean literally and culinarily? Is it misapplied to a flourless cake? And where might this cake come from? We're lost and confused, any help appreciated.

When a person can't find an answer, it's time to write about the subject. Put simply, a sformato is similar to a soufflé, but is not as airy. Getting down to specifics, Antionio Piccinardi says, in his Dizionario della Gastronomia Italiana, that the word sformato derives from sformare, which means to unmold. The batter (for want of a better term) used to make a sformato almost always contains beaten eggs (one occasionally finds white sauce instead), though what else goes into the preparation is up to the cook.

Savory sformati can be made with vegetables, at which point they generally serve as side dishes or light entrees, or they can be made with pasta, potatoes, or rice, at which point they're generally set in ring molds and used to accompany stews, which go into the well. Sformati can also be sweet. In almost all cases they're served with sauces of one sort or another.

A simple concept, in short, but one that offers a great deal of room for experimentation and variation. A few observations:
  • Though one can put a sformato into the oven to set, the traditional method is a bagno Maria, i.e. over a double boiler, or with the mold immersed in water, because one doesn't want the mixture to stiffen or form a hard crust.
  • The Italians have adopted the French term Flan to mean sformato, though in France a flan also has a crust.
  • In terms of texture, a sformato is not as airy as a soufflé. Because of this, one need not worry about its collapsing.
Never Made a Sformato?
Alessio pesucci's Spinach Sformato, Step by Step.

More Recipes:

Sformato di Riso
A classic; if made in a ring mold it's the perfect vehicle for presenting a stew (which goes into the well).

Sformato Di Zucchini Passati
A quick, tasty summery dish.

Sformato Di Funghi
The perfect thing to do with fall mushrooms, especially wild ones.

Sformato di Spinaci
A standby for all seasons, and one of the tastiest side dishes going.
Alessio Pesucci's Spinach Sformato
In a single page.

Sformato Di Cavolfiore
Cauliflower makes for a very delicate sformato.

Sformato di Asparagi
A rich asparagus sformato that will be perfect for an elegant luncheon.

Sformato di Piselli e Asparagi
This asparagus and pea flan will be nice either as an antipasto or a main course, depending upon how big the portions are.

Sformato di Finocchi
An extremely delicate sformato made with bulb fennel, from Pellegrino Artusi.

Sformato di Cardi
A delicate winter sformato made with cardoons, from Pellegrino Artusi.

Sformato All'Emiliana
An extraordinarily rich, potatoey, cheesy wonder that's perfect for the keeping the cold at bay.

Sformato di Baccalà alla Certosina
An elegant ring of mashed potatoes filled with baccalà and mushrooms.

Sformato di Bucatini al Forno
An elegant Neapolitan timballo with lots of mushrooms.

Sformato Cogli Amaretti Coperto Di Zabaione
An elegant, sensual dessert in which the pleasing bitterness of the amaretti is nicely balanced by the richness of the zabaione.

Sformato di Mele e Pane
A tasty apple-and-bread sformato, which changes radically depending upon the bread you use.

Sformato di Fragole
Wild strawberries are a delight!

A Few Things Off The Net:

Sformato di Patate al Ragu
A Sicilian classic from Anna Tasca Lanza

Sformato di Nocciole e Zucchine
Hazelnut And Courgette Loaf, from Tonino, a retired Calabrian chef who now lives in England.

Porcini Mushroom Sformato
"A great starter with a drizzle of olive oil and shavings of parmesan next to a rocket salad..."

Carrot Pie Sformato

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